September 1, 2000

Remembering our roots

I just read Vince Czaplyski's article on flying Piper Cubs at Hampton Airfield in Hampton, New Hampshire (" Tailwheel Transition," July Pilot). Strong memories instantly flooded back, for I flew my Cessna Cutlass from Palo Alto, California, to Hampton Airfield a few years ago. Remembering my landing there at dusk in mid-October, with the fall colors at their peak and heightened by the low-lying sun, caused strong feelings to well up.

As I remembered, I lined up on final for Runway 20, and I saw some yellow J–3s parked off to the side, near a couple of brightly painted Stearmans and a Standard; by luck I had arrived during an antique-aircraft fly-in. Flaps out and with power reduced, I glided in over the trees and very soon was rumbling down the grass airstrip, yoke in my gut. After a few turns I stopped in front of the restaurant. My young nephews and radiant sister were holding signs, "Welcome home, Sonny." I was down and it felt so wonderful.

Later, after I had given the kids a ride in my airplane, I asked an instructor to go up with me in a J–3 and we flew over to Hampton Beach for a fall tour. I remember a white-steepled church poking up through all the fall colors. Ah, flying at its best. (By the way, the photos used in the story seem like they were from another location.)

We are so privileged in this country to be able to do this. I just wanted to say that your article was read and enjoyed by this pilot.

Paul D. Perreault AOPA 1141191
Palo Alto, California

Perreault is correct. Because of weather and scheduling considerations, the photographs that accompanied Czaplyski's article were taken in Wichita, not New Hampshire—Ed.

Marchetti's siren song

I loved Marc Cook's feature on the SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 (" Accessible Exotica," July Pilot). I was a 20-year-old cadet getting my wings in a small Southeast Asian banana republic when I first flew one. For one whose experience up to that time had been limited to the usual indifferent Spam cans, the SF.260 represented a traumatic and joyful loss of one's aerial innocence—I was spoiled for everything else afterward. I had 120 hours of caressing her controls, and every second was a gem.

That was a quarter of a century ago. The SF.260 occupies a special and permanent place in my heart. A picture of us in close echelon in a right bank dominates a wall at home. I love the Cessna Citation Ultra that I fly for a living, but if I ever get rich doing this, I already know who I'm going to have as a mistress!

David S. Tan AOPA 1021296
Las Vegas, Nevada

Breakout strategies

Thomas A. Horne's " Breaking Out" (July Pilot) was an excellent article. I have been instrument-rated since 1964 and was an instrument instructor for quite a few years. Fortunately I was able to provide actual instrument meteorological conditions for my students, which I believe is absolutely essential to IFR training. I found that self-discipline is the most important ingredient for precision IFR flight. As Horne wrote, do not be satisfied with more than a dot off vertically or a dot horizontally. To achieve that precision, all basic flight parameters must be tightly controlled—including heading, airspeed, and power. Many of us, including me, tend to be a bit loose when minimums are high.

I fly my best and tightest approach when conditions are down to minimums. I recently flew a VOR approach into a suburban Chicago airport absolutely perfectly. It had to be perfect because the minimums existed. I took my instrument checkride from the South Portland, Maine, airport in actual conditions. For me there is no greater thrill, other than flying itself, than breaking out from an approach with the runway exactly where it is supposed to be.

Harry Bladow AOPA 249197
Independence, Oregon

One strategy Horne did not discuss and that I have found works quite well is to bring the windscreen into your scan of the instrument panel. I find that this works best when your peripheral vision begins to reveal that there are breaks in the clouds. At no time until very near touchdown are all the flight instruments not still included in the scan.

Also, unless the airplane has been reconfigured after breaking out, there should be a conscious effort to make few if any changes to control input or power setting until the flare for landing. Whatever got you to the point of breakout with the plane reasonably aligned with the runway will usually continue to keep everything in order. The higher the altitude above the runway that you break out the less this is true, since there is often a wind shift at the base of higher clouds that is rarely found in the 200-foot-ceiling approach.

Bill Pappy AOPA 636171
Southlake, Texas

Gimli's glider

" The Gimli Glider" (July Pilot) was an amazing story, not only in the events that led up to the incident, but also in the crew's resourceful response. I hope I will think that clearly when I have a serious systems malfunction. Being a professional pilot and flight instructor, I am aware that seemingly small details can have huge consequences.

As well as any flight may go, there is always something to correct or improve—and as well as the article was written, I find myself wanting to make one correction. The pilot did not sideslip; he performed a forward slip. A sideslip is used to maintain runway centerline alignment in a crosswind without changing glide angle or airspeed, while a forward slip is used to steepen the glide angle without increasing airspeed. You described it properly but just named it wrong.

Dan Gleason AOPA 1085395
Elizabethton, Tennessee

It took many years for Air Canada to recognize the crew for its skills in preventing a disaster. Several organizations, including the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, awarded the crew for its actions in preventing a disaster. The company, however, was looking for someone to blame for the error when in fact its own procedures permitted the aircraft to fly with the deficient system. Go figure.

Kevin Psutka
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Psutka is president and CEO of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association—Ed.

Hot-start discussion

I fly both a Piper Arrow and a Citabria. Both are fuel injected. I would like to warn pilots not to be confused by the instructions to recirculate the fuel for two minutes, in order to cool off the engine (" Airframe and Powerplant: Fuel Injection's Curse," July Pilot). If done improperly, or if the regulator is not up to specs, or if it's simply the wrong system, you may end up dumping raw gas into the manifold—in other words, overpriming the engine. Then when you turn it over, kaboom! You may have to start reading Barry Schiff's " Proficient Pilot: A Burning Issue" (July Pilot) real quick.

Years ago, I was surprised when a pilot was condemned by other pilots when he got out of a burning airplane (on the ground) instead of staying in it and trying to start it again. The theory was that cranking would suck the flames back inside. I never believed the theory but vowed that I would try it if it ever happened to me. Last fall, I got to try it out on the Citabria, and it actually works. But I don't think the engine really sucks the flames inside. I think what really happens is that three different actions contribute to the extinguishing of the fire. First, the raw fuel is either blown out of the manifold and/or consumed by the engine. Second, since the air coming out of the exhaust has already been combusted, it is very low in oxygen and very high in gases that don't combust (this tends to smother the fire). And third, the propeller blows the flames off of the fuel source (once it gets pushed out of the manifold) just like a candle.

It burned long enough for a quick-thinking pilot standing nearby to grab a fire extinguisher and run all the way to the plane, but not long enough for him to have to use it. The amazing thing was that it didn't do any real damage to the engine. A faulty fuel regulator was suspected of allowing the engine to be easily overprimed.

I smelled the fire, but it didn't smell like smoke exactly. It smelled like something was really hot that shouldn't be. I never did see it and may have doubted that I ever was on fire if not for the graphic description of eyewitnesses.

Joseph Smith AOPA 922135
Centerville, Ohio

As Smith observes, the two-minute technique for Continental engines mentioned in the article is not appropriate for the Lycoming-powered aircraft he flies. Different techniques may work better for different pilots or different aircraft; use the article's suggestions as starting points and talk with owners of similar airplanes to find a reliable method for your aircraft—Ed.

Saving ASRS

This June, NASA's revered Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) announced it will curtail services and publications as a result of budget cuts at the FAA, ASRS' principal funding source.

It seems the government is likely to ensure failure of the current system by squeezing the FAA funding allocations for ASRS. Is it possible this may be another angle of the government's continued effort toward attempting to justify the specter of privatization of the FAA? The prospect of forcing the Aviation Safety Reporting System to curtail or eliminate publications, mailings, and other important work—during the busiest flying season of the year—looks more like disservice than service to me.

Thank you to the folks at ASRS Callback. The 3,000-plus aviation workers and pilots who actively use the ASRS system each month to further public safety, as well as the thousands who read and benefit from ASRS' work, will be grateful when it returns to full publication and productive capacity.

B.H. Snow AOPA 1008734
Laytonville, California

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